By Aaron Hartley–
Every election season, the importance of voter turnout is restated, as it should be. Voter turnout is possibly the key element in ensuring the system functions properly, and guarantee the person with the majority of preference is elected. However, it’s gotten to the point where our registration and voter system are so archaic and rudimentary, it’s beginning to keep people from the polls in alarming numbers.
In Kentucky, the issues in this respect are especially awful. Little to no measures have been taken to make voting more convenient or accessible to the public. No special privilege is given to election day itself, meaning registered voters will likely be spending an entire day at work, and will have to find a window of opportunity to travel to their nearest precinct. For many, this inconvenience is enough to keep them from even bothering. This is especially problematic for students, and people aged 18-24, who may be full time in school, at work or have no reliable transportation.
Local politics, to the average Joe, simply are not interesting or enticing, and there is nothing to stir voters into action and drag themselves to the polls and select a candidate. Kentucky’s voter turnout for the 2015 governor’s race was 30.7 percent, a depressingly low number that resulted in the election of Matt Bevin. In his short stint as governor, Bevin as already threatened to gut Kentucky’s successful healthcare system, slash the state’s already floundering college budgets and restrict reproductive rights and health through the defunding of Planned Parenthood. Bevin’s stances have drawn national negative attention to the state, with the New York Times’ Editorial Board calling Bevin’s plan to dismantle Kynect “a shortsighted and pointless show of defiance against the Obama administration’s health care reforms [that] could cause harm to thousands of People in Kentucky.”
Bevin’s victory should be a huge wake up call to the people of Kentucky to the importance of voter turnout no matter how inconvenient they may be. Ideally Kentucky politicians would take steps to help their electorate vote, possibly by beginning a vote by mail system, which has proven successful in Oregon, Washington and Colorado. Perhaps even more absurd is the nationwide lack of an efficient, function online voting system.
Voting is an essential piece of living in a republic, but if you aren’t able to convince people of its importance, they and the system, will suffer. Significantly more efforts need to be made to make voting more convenient and accessible to the masses, as well as enticement for people to become involved in local politics, so as to prevent the election of dysfunctional candidates and harm to the welfare of the people.